The Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine scientific excellence and representing the marine biological community since 1884

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Royal Charter

What is a Royal Charter?

Royal Charters, granted by the sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, have a history dating back to the 13th century. Their original purpose was to create public or private corporations (including towns and cities), and to define their privileges and purpose. Nowadays, though Charters are still occasionally granted to cities, new Charters are normally reserved for bodies that work in the public interest (such as professional institutions and charities) and which can demonstrate pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their particular field” (text taken from Privy Council website at

Why did the MBA apply for a Charter?

The MBA was established in 1884 and has a long and distinguished history as a Learned society both in providing advice to Governments and in research. It was felt that a Royal Charter would help the MBA by a) providing recognition for its long, distinguished contribution to the discipline of Marine Biology b) enhancing the standing of the MBA in working with other bodies and in its provision of independent expert advice to HM Government, the European Union, and other organisations c) promote the work and standing of MBA members and d) recognise the importance of understanding the marine environment at a time when the need for evidence to inform conservation measures in the UK and elsewhere has never been more urgent. 

The MBA has always played a key role in representing the  marine biological community; the Charter formalises this role and helps increase the profile of marine biology and the marine environment.

Will this mean a change in name?

No, we will still be called the Marine Biological Association. Also, being granted a Royal Charter does not automatically give an organisation the right to add ‘Royal’ to the title. It is worth noting however that the award of Charter does allow an organisation to approach the Privy Council and request the use of the word ‘Royal’ if that becomes appropriate in the future. 

Will the MBA be offering Chartered Marine Biologist?

The MBA currently has no plans to offer a Chartered Marine Biologist programme. We plan instead to work with those who already offer chartered status such as the Society of Biology (Chartered Biologist) and IMarEST (Chartered Marine Scientist). We will however continue to listen to our members as to whether this option could be developed eventually.

What does the Charter mean to members?

The new charter body will be offering a range of new membership categories including providing increased recognition for members by establishing member categories that are validated and approved to use a post-nominal e.g. an MBA Fellows programme allowing use of the post-nominal FMBA. There will also be new categories aimed at broadening the membership base beyond those already professionally trained including a new category aimed at younger members. The Association has also used this opportunity to review its benefits package and introduce new benefits such as the new magazine The Marine Biologist .

Information will be provided to members on how they can transfer to or apply for the new membership categories. The basic costs of membership will remain the same although all membership costs are due for review in 2014 anyway and information on the cost of new categories will also be provided.  To see the recently announced new membership categories, please visit:

When does the Charter come into effect?

The Charter came into effect legally when the Great Seal was applied at the end of the summer. The MBA has begun transitioning to the new charter body and will complete the transition by April 1st 2014. At the 2013 AGM in October members were asked to approve the new charter and some administrative issues transferring members and assets to the new charter body. 

Will there be any other changes to the operation of the MBA?

The day to day running and structure of the MBA will continue largely as at present. There will be a transfer of members and assets from the existing limited liability company to the new charter body. A new Charter and Bye-laws have replaced the Memorandum and Articles of Association as the governing documents of the Association. Operational matters will be covered by a set of regulations.    

Who can I contact if I have any other questions?

Please send inquiries to the MBA at